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From: Gayle Sollenberger (e-mail her)
Re: Joe Guzzardi's Column: In Over Your Head On Credit Card Debt? Help May Be On The Way!
The Memorial Day holiday reminded me of a recent story revealing that several hundred of our military were so stretched out financially that they had incurred thousands of dollars in debt with an interest rate of nearly 400 percent at payday advance businesses. [Payday Lenders Bait Legislators but Don't Change Rate, Thomas Suddes, Plain Dealer, April 28, 2008]
The federal government was supposed to crack down on these predatory lenders, as well as the credit card issuing banks Guzzardi referred to in his column. But of course it has done nothing about either.
I work for a bankruptcy attorney and can say with absolute certainty that 8 out of ten petitions contain at least five to ten debts listed for check cashing/payday advance legal loan shark operation.
These places prey on poor people, including gullible immigrants.
Payday advance businesses are a modern version of those fake grocery stores that the Mafia used to run to cover up its gambling and usurious lending operations in the back.
Now, though, with the government's blessing, anyone can get a payday advance in every strip mall.
The government didn't get rid of the Mafia; it just sanctioned its businesses while sending all the bosses to jail.
Another major problem is shysters who sell debts discharged in bankruptcy to new companies and then the new company tries to collect.
Our clients are told immediately that once the debt is discharged they no longer have to pay, not even if the debt was sold 500 times.
But many of the unsuspecting actually pay because they don't know any better.
People should be responsible enough not to patronize check cashing scam businesses. But the come-ons are strong and it all sounds so pleasing and easy.
What the customers don't realize is now fast the renewal fees add up - and how badly the lender doesn't want anyone to pay off his debt.
Sollenberger lives in Tennessee.